LET'S GO BACK TO THE START
Chapter One - It's Such a Shame for Us to Part.
A/N: This story is written by Australians, therefore it is set in Australia, based on the Australian way of life etc. Schoolies is a week of partying that all the year 12s (seniors) go on all over Australia once they've finished the dreaded HSC (epic exam that pretty much makes your future). :)
Also any words you see with an extra 'u' 'l' 'i' or 's' instead of 'z' and so on it's because we write how we were taught, with Australian English, not American 'colOr' and 'realiZed' weirdness haha.
So, thanks for reading our story. Enjoy!
xx Alex & Kelly
"Then I drew the 3 of diamonds and had to do 3 shots and by the end of the game I was plastered, singing as loud as I could to Tipsy by J-kwon with Jessica and God knows who else," she proudly announced to her little brother over the phone through his roars of laughter.
Stretching her arms as she gripped the car wheel and twisting her neck, Issy winced as she flexed her bruised and battered muscles from schoolies. She was driving home and as soon as she had signal was straight away on the phone to Tyler, replaying her week of absolute mayhem to her only brother and favourite person in the world. She had bumps, bruises and all kinds of scars she couldn't place, she had tattoo of some random symbol on her left wrist and she couldn't for the life of her figure out why or how it got there and more than likely a now failing liver, but she couldn't care less. School was over for Issy and so was the fucking HSC and she could finally breathe a sigh of relief - well that is until her exam results come back - but she quickly pushed those thoughts deep into the back of her mind where she would lock them away to prevent her jumping off something tall.
"Ty, I'm like, 20 minutes away," Issy said, smiling through the phone. She pulled the car slowly around the corner, being beyond cautious whenever she drove, and grinned to herself at the familiar landmarks of suburban life that was decorated around her house. "I'll tell you everything when I get home okay? Love you too, bye." She hung up and exhaled, with slight relief to be home.
It's not as if Issy didn't enjoy her week away, on the contrary it was one of the best and most fun weeks of her life, but she couldn't help but feel that itch at the back of her head, that hollow feeling in her stomach when she was away from home and from Tyler. She missed their late night Xbox marathons and watching zombie movies at midnight, but mostly how when it all went down all those years ago Tyler was there for her when he didn't want to be.
'But fuck that and fuck bad thoughts,' Issy decided triumphantly as she steered the car farther up her street. 'I've just had the best and craziest week of my life I'm not going to start letting thoughts about him creep up on me.'
The rolling of stones underneath the rubber wheels of her car alerted her brother to her arrival, and before she had time to slide her keys out of the ignition and run her long fingers through her mane of inky black hair for good measure, her brother was running from the front door towards her. Normally the glowing sight of her brother's all sunshine smile and welcome home open arms would make Issy practically float with happiness, but normally Tyler wasn't waving his arms desperately at her as if trying to shoo her away and flushed in the face clearly from yelling at someone.
"Issy, seriously bail now while you can! Drive away now!" She sat puzzled, her sticky skin pealing away from the seat she had been sitting on for hours and her fingers nervously drumming against the plastic of the steering wheel, uncertain how to respond to the frantic cries of her only little brother.
He was clearly shitting himself over something and knowing Tyler it was either someone had screwed with the TV or mum was up to something. Issy would like to say she was hoping it wasn't the second one more but really she and her brother were the adopted children of their television they watched it so much - but deep down Issy knew it was the latter option. Tyler was trying to save her by sending her far, far away before mum got them involved in another one of her projects. Death really brings out the weirdest in people and Issy's mum was living proof of that, signing the family up for ballroom dancing lessons, guitar lessons, skiing lessons or whatever whim she was on at the time, and clearly this one was a doozy.
She really would have liked to say she put her keys back into the ignition.
She really would like to say she put the car into drive and swerved violently out of the driveway and sped off.
And she really would like to say she took Tyler with her and they busked for money and rented out a motel room two towns over.
But no. Issy had to do what any confused person would do who was sick of sitting in a car for 6 hours – she hopped out of the car and rushed over to her ranting and raving brother, who grabbed her wrists and tried to push her back into her vehicle.
"Issy! Seriously just get in the car before you hurt someone here please if you've ever loved me you'll drive away now and save yourself!" Tyler's grip on her wrists was tight and he squeezed harder as his words went on.
"Oh come on, Tyler, it's really not that bad!" The struggling honey toned voice of reason sang out, sweet and fake as hell. She watched the small frame of her mother rush out of her house, done up in pearls and pastels looking quickly at the neighbourhood to see if anyone was watching, and plead with Tyler. "You'll both have fun stop making a scene!"
"Don't get me wrong Mum, I love the beach, but I can not deal with their fighting for that long!" Tyler continued and Issy stood, flabbergasted, blinking and trying to process the bizarre scene in front of her.
"Hey guys how are you? Oh I'm fine thanks for asking, and why yes I have been away for a week glad you noticed," Issy hissed bitterly at her family as she decided to ignore whatever drama this was about mum making Tyler go to the beach. Maybe mum had taken up surfing and needed him to teach her? Or more likely mum had taken up hot younger guys who surf.
Issy turned around and began to pull her suitcase out of the boot of her car, stumbling as it awkwardly landed on her driveway and she momentarily lost balance. Noticing her struggles her brother moved towards her and in one movement picked up the suitcase and held it over his head as if to say 'hah grow some muscles.'
"Issy, seriously, mum is just trying to sugar coat this bullshit. You're going to flip out and want to strangle something and I'm the closest thing here so it's going to be me and I promise I will cry and make you feel guilty!" Tyler called out to her while he walked into the house carrying her suitcase and dropped it carefully in the empty hallway of her house.
"It's just a little holiday why are you freaking out about this? I thought you loved going up the coast?" Mum continued straining her voice to sound as happy as she could as if it would rub off on Tyler, who was now leaning against the doorway, running his hands through his dark hair in frustration.
If there was anything you needed as proof that Issy and Tyler were siblings it was their hair. Both the same shade of thick, rich dark brown to black that they got from their fathers gene pool that they ran their hands through when they were frustrated. Although Issy got her mothers softer features, big brown eyes and petite frame, Tyler's face was strong and his jawbone as defined as their fathers was. He stood tall just as their father had and had the same dulled grey eyes as their father had too. Sometimes Issy would catch her mother staring at Tyler as if she was holding back tears and she knew it was their father she was looking at.
But thoughts of her father rushed her back to the surface and she suddenly realised what her mother had just said.
"Wait, what? What do you mean holiday?" Issy asked and a strange silence fell between the pair as they hesitated to answer her question. "I just came back from one why are we going away again?"
"It'll be lovely Iz," her mother cooed and her reaction wavered as she tried to imagine a holiday with her family versus the thought of swimming and tanning every day. Both as good and bad as the other, but hey, next year was uni and she may as well enjoy her break. "We've booked this really big holiday home over Christmas that's right near the beach but still in the big town there so getting food will be fine, and you and Tyler will have your own rooms for a chang-"
"What do you mean we've booked the house?" Issy cut her mother off, not letting that go unnoticed. She watched her mother's pink lips quiver as she cowered at answering this question.
So this was the big drama, we weren't going on holiday alone - but that's not bad at all really, hopefully it was with Georgina, her long time neighbour and best friend. Georgina lived across the road from Issy's family and was in the year below with Tyler, and doing the nice neighbourly thing, her family had warmly greeted Issy's family when they had first moved in when Issy was a baby and Georgina and Tyler were just around the corner. Their mothers had bonded on the whole pregnancy thing and forced their families together every Sunday for a barbeque since they moved in - but they hardly needed forcing, when Georgina was born Issy would happily go over the road to visit the 'new baby friend of Tyler' (she was convinced they made friends in the womb) and since those days the three of them had bonded completely. Although it wasn't always three...
"We're not travelling alone Iz, actually we'll be far from alone and very, very far from sane by the end of this," Tyler practically groaned his sentence to her and she knew at once what was coming. For a moment she had visions of her lovely beach and self tanning being overcome with dark swirling steely blue clouds and rain pouring down on her as if she was already in the water. She knew instantly why he was trying to push her back into her car and make her drive away before she found out, because he really did know her all too well and Issy's hands were all ready in a tight fist with her nails digging into the palms of her hands. Her jaw dropped and she felt her shoulders tense up as she resisted turning into the hulk and smashing everything. "Georgina's coming, and um, Nate and his family are coming too."
Yep. Here it came. A full-blown hulk rampage.
"ARE YOU HIGH?" Issy squealed, turning to face her mother who looked as if she had been slapped across the face. "Sorry, Mum, but are you fucking high?"
"Isabel, don't talk to me like that!" her mother snarled in her controlling head of the household tone. Issy knew it was wrong to say that to her mum but right now she couldn't even see straight she was so mad. Anger had replaced blood in her system and now her rage was the only thing pumping her heart, which echoed loudly in her ears. "There is actually nothing wrong with Nathaniel and his family, he is the sweetest boy, and if you two would remember you used to be the best of friends anyway so why will one little holiday kill you?"
She was rambling, trying to make this right for Issy because her mum wasn't stupid. She knew their situation and she knew Issy would be a drama queen about it, but it was the only way she could afford to take them on holiday and she tried so desperately to make her children happy.
"There is nothing sweet," Issy hissed, gripping her car for support as her anger and frustration overpowered her "about Nate. He's a lying, selfish and conniving bastard who will ruin Christmas, Mum. I'm not joking here he's the fucking devil!" Tyler groaned and began banging his head against the wall of their house and Issy's mum rested her face in her hands for a moment, muttering evils about her.
"See, Mum, I told you! And this is just the beginning, wait until we have to make them live together, ugh can't you two just get over it for a few weeks?" Tyler directed his last comment at Issy and her jaw dropped. He suddenly looked as if he would do anything to take back what he just said. Issy turned to face him, trying to set him on fire with her eyes and let out a frustrated gasp.
"Get over it?" Issy contemplated strangling her brother for a brief moment, but instead internally counted to ten and waited for her anger to subside. "You asshole, you're actually asking me to get over what he did? And everything he's done to me since then?" Tyler rolled his eyes and crossed his arms impatiently, waiting for her rage to subside. "Tyler, I swear to God if I didn't love you so much I would stab you in the balls with a protractor."
Then suddenly, as if on cue, the husky sound of Nate's dad was calling out to their domestic dispute outside of their house, asking if everything was alright, and upon seeing Issy, trembling and pale with her fists ready to punch someone, he understood. Issy hated that she lived right next door to Satan himself, as if she were trapped in her own suburban hell, and had frequently asked to move, or to at least get a room that doesn't face his. She saw enough of his stupid face at school and didn't need to deal with his bullshit when she came home every day. She had thought that maybe since school was over she could move far away and leave Nate to hopefully die in a hole somewhere far, far away from her, but now she came home to holidays with her worst enemy and rooms with a view of Nate's bedroom/chamber of horrors.
"Everything is fine, Steven, don't worry. Issy is just being a drama queen about the whole situation. Have you told Nate yet?" Her mother's reaction to Nate's dad was sickeningly obvious.
So maybe he did have that whole hot older guy George Clooney thing going on, but still, any relative of his was a relative of pure evil and despite his being one of the nicest dads she's ever met, she couldn't help but dislike him. Her mother began adjusting her hair and standing a little straighter, pushing her chest out and fluttering her long eyelashes. For a moment Issy and Tyler exchanged equal looks of disgust and laughter; then swapped back to glares, remembering they were fighting. His wife, Nate's mother, had left when he was younger leaving him with a 12-year-old Nate and few months old baby Jade.
"Nate already knows?" Issy screeched, outraged to once again be the last to know everything. Her mum chose to ignore her cries and rolled her eyes at Steven.
"Well I tried, but he said, um, 'I have to go, dad, and drive off a cliff', and then hung up on me." He looked at Issy, trying to smile and she turned away, murmuring things about how she 'could only wish', too frustrated with the two of them to look either parent in the eyes. "But I'm sure he and Isabel will get over it sooner or later, they don't have a choice." And her mother began laughing as if he was the most hilarious middle aged and greying man she'd ever met.
Yeah she fucking bet they'd both get over it all right. She couldn't imagine anything more in the world she hated then Mr. Nathaniel Silver, let alone a forced holiday with him. Over Christmas. Oh Joy.
"Are you all still okay for coming over tonight?" She asked sweetly and he smiled, nodding his head.
"All?" Issy hissed angrily at her mother who shooed her away with her hand and continued being an embarrassing flirt. "Oh Mum, please don't tell me you invited the Devil for dinner?"
"Would you stop calling him that?" Her mum smiled apologetically at Steven who chucked at Issy's reaction. He smiled down at her as if to say 'kids will be kids' and rolled his eyes with her mother.
"We'll be there happily at 6, and hopefully these two will have cooled down by then huh." They chuckled and she groaned, walking away in frustration to her brother who looked just as happy to bail on this whole situation, and ran her hands through her long inky hair - and almost instantly regretting it.
"ISABEL CHARLOTTE EVANS WHAT IS ON YOUR WRIST?!" Issy's mothers scream was loud enough that she expected her car alarm to go off. She let out a small yelp as she covered the tattoo that now sat, still red, on her left wrist and turned to face the firing squad. "IS THAT A TATTOO?" she bellowed and Issy smiled meekly, hoping she wouldn't be murdered too much.
On second thought, a holiday with Nate really, really made her happy for death right now.
"...and then Daddy said that you said you were gonna jump of a cliff!" Nate's six-year-old sister Jade exclaimed through the speaker on his phone. "Are you really going to do that, Natey? Because it sounds kind of scary and I don't want you to die!"
Nate winced and realised that driving around the neighbourhood for the past hour was only worrying his sister, and having no affect whatsoever on his dad. But then again, Nate's dad was used to his reactions whenever the name of 'Issy' was mentioned. No one was safe when that happened.
"Don't worry, Jade," Nate said in a soothing tone. "I'll be home in two minutes and I expect a big hug."
He heaved a sigh as he turned the car into his street, the familiar houses comforting, yet mocking him in a way as well. His street was like an obstacle course. He couldn't get to his house without passing hers. This alone made him really rethink deciding to come home, and he contemplated reversing out of the street and going to find that cliff he'd told his father he would drive off.
But he managed to make it through, and as he pulled the car into the driveway and pulled it up next to his Dad's car in the garage, he realised that he made it out alive. He'd survived schoolies without any – WHOA WHAT WAS THAT?
Realising he thought too soon, Nate immediately rolled up the sleeve of his t-shirt and stared in horror at the Chinese symbol that sat there complacently. When the fuck did he get this? There were a few nights where he couldn't remember... or when he woke up he could only remember some things he'd really rather not. Like when he wandered the streets with his equally drunk friends singing "Everybody's Drunk" by Reel Big Fish in the early hours of the morning.
But that was a completely different story.
'You're eighteen,' he reassured himself. 'Just because Dad is going to kill you for getting a tattoo... well, you are an adult. It doesn't matter.'
Pulling his suitcase out from the boot of the car, he walked into the house and put it down, taking in the surroundings of his living room and kitchen. Nothing had changed. His Nazi-Cleaner father kept the house completely spotless. Baby photos of Nate were all perfectly aligned and Nate felt a wave of embarrassment. He knew that when his father was out of the house one day, those photos will go into hiding and mysteriously never come back.
"Nathaniel!" his father bellowed, walking into the room and giving Nate a hug. "Good to have you home. How was schoolies?"
Nate winced in pain when his father hit the spot where his tattoo was.
"Schoolies was good. Fun. You know, all of that stuff," Nate replied, itching to leave the room before his father started talking about that thing they were going to do these holidays.
"Didn't do anything too stupid?" his dad asked jokingly.
Only got a tattoo.
Nate stumbled when a small force ran into him. Looking down to see his younger sister, in all her adorable glory, he gave her a grin and picked her up, giving her a huge hug.
The only girl in Nate's life was his sister.
"Nate!" she squealed in delight, wrapping her small arms around his neck.
"Hey there, my little jewel. I've missed you so much," he said softly, giving her a peck on the cheek.
"So," his dad interrupted. "We have to be at the Evans' at 6, so go unpack and put your dirty clothes into the wash. I want you to be on your best behaviour."
"Yeah, yeah," Nate muttered, waving him off as he picked up his suitcase and, still holding Jade, went up to his room.
"I mean it, Nathaniel!" dad called. "No mean remarks. I want you to be civil."
"When am I not civil?"
"Ah, Issy. I'd rather be fed to a pool of sharks, but nice to see you," Nate greeted Satan with a bright, albeit forced, smile when they arrived next door for dinner.
"Yes, but eating you would probably kill the sharks and you'd have to deal with PETA now wouldn't you," Issy retorted with a sweet smile, only moving slightly to let him into her house.
Issy's house had always freaked him out. Well, not always, but now it did. Every time he stepped into it, he was reminded of everything that went wrong in their lives. The framed photo of Issy's dad on the mantelpiece made him want to apologise for not...for not taking better care of Issy. Issy's dad was the coolest dad in the neighbourhood, if not the world. Everybody loved her dad, and the day he died was pretty much the start of their downfall.
Nobody was the same after that.
But whenever Nate came over here, he was reminded of when he used to spend days here without going home or when they built a tent in the living room, when they watched horror movies whenever there was a huge storm brewing outside, how they could sit and play Nintendo for hours on end, and just be the best friends that everyone else envied.
Stepping into this house only swallowed Nate up in showing him what was wrong with the past six years of his life. What he'd lost, what he'd had taken away from him, and what he pushed away.
"So you're basically saying that I am stuck with him in some holiday house in the middle of nowhere, for the entire summer," Issy stated, devoid of any emotion after the adults had attempted to make this holiday seem better than they all thought it was during dinner.
"Aren't you lucky," Nate chimed, shooting her a grin and immediately feeling her response through the searing pain that was making his shin feel like it was on fire.
"How about we just leave Nate and Issy here," Tyler suggested. "Then all our holidays won't be ruined in the process."
"You can talk this holiday up as much as you want," Nate said. "But you aren't going to be able to get me on that little minivan you've hired when we leave."
"Exactly!" Issy cried. Nate looked at her in wonder, trying to remember the last time she'd actually agreed with him on something. "I'm eighteen. I can do whatever I want."
"That's enough!" his father slammed his fist down on the table, causing everyone to jump. "Emma and I have spent a lot of time planning this so it will be a perfect holiday before you two jet off to university and we never see each other again. So stop being ungrateful. No one said that you two would have to spend every waking moment together. You're adults. So start acting like them."
No one said anything and instead, the dining room was filled with a tense silence while everyone shifted their food around on their plate, occasionally taking a bite. Nate wondered if he should say something, feeling the obligatory need to smooth everything over. He was the do-gooder, as some people may say. He was the person who tried to make everyone happy, and so he racked his brain to find any possible conversation starters that would be far away from their holiday and away from Nate and Issy's hatred of each other.
He turned his gaze to Georgina, who had been sitting at the table quietly, not so much as speaking a word in the conversation, while her parents looked a bit freaked out. Georgina, much like Tyler, had to tolerate six years of hatred between Nate and Issy, and for this he felt incredibly sorry. And then Tyler had to tolerate Issy 24/7, which was even worse.
"So Tyler," Nate drawled. "I see you've got the new racing game for Xbox. You've had a week to get used to the game, so let me show you how the pros do it."
Tyler scoffed. "Dream on, Silver. I could beat you any day."
"Yeah, that's why I beat you every time we played," Georgina muttered.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, hold up." Nate grinned. "You beat him?"
"Like it's hard," Georgina retorted.
"Shut up, G," Tyler said. "You promised you wouldn't say anything."
She shrugged. "Maybe I could beat Nate."
"Uh, no," Nate said, raising his eyebrows. "See these fingers? Yeah, they're Gods at Xbox and Playstation from spending hours playing Nintendo here. No one, aside from Issy, could beat me."
Silence fell again and Nate realised just what he'd said.
Don't misinterpret the situation. Being in this house does strange things to Nate...much like that time where – NO. We aren't going to think about that. But he really did hate Isabel Evans or, tried to anyway. She made it so very easy to make Nate want to strangle her ALL THE TIME.
Jeez, he really should have driven off that cliff.
But stating that would only get the parents going on how the two haters would marry each other one day. According to them, their hatred was really masking their true and passionate love for each other. But then again, it wasn't anything new. Ever since Nate's mum and Issy's mum met that day when they all moved in, they said they would get married.
Hell fucking no.
Just because once upon a time the only girl in his life was Issy did not mean they would get married, nor would it have any impact on them now. At that age, one didn't really think of having a girlfriend and it didn't matter. Even if all girls except for Issy had cooties, but she was his best friend then, so of course he wouldn't ditch her for some fake disease.
And just because when they were younger, they'd play games like, 'if you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want with you?' or in their morbid stage, 'if you could take a bullet for anyone, who would it be?' they wouldn't have to think of answers, it was just a commonly known fact that Nate would choose Issy.
But that was in the past. THE PAST.
It's difficult to let go of a friendship like that. It was difficult, and Nate still has those constant reminders - same school, same neighbourhood, that box in his cupboard filled with all of the stuff she gave him.
If Nate could change it, he would. But he couldn't. What's done is done. It happened. There really wasn't much else he could do about it, sadly. He would never have a friendship like that again, and that killed him every time he thought about it. But once this summer is over, he can get out and leave. He would never have to see her again and that was really beginning to sound appealing.
The thing is, their lives weren't full of happiness. They'd had a lot of heartbreak and rough times in their lives. So even if they wanted to become friends again, it would take a lot to move past all that had come between them. But high school is over now. The HSC is done and dusted. And after summer, it's time to go into the real world, to go to Uni, to pursue a career.
Nate and Issy were over. Whatever friendship they had was gone. If they wanted to pursue this friendship, there would be no point. They were trying to move on. Both were haunting reminders of their past. As much as Nate missed that amazing best friend he had when he was younger, she was gone. They'd grown up.
So as Nate's mind wandered with a million thoughts per second, trying to think of something to say in the stunned silence that he actually complimented Issy, Satan herself decided to actually relieve him of this pain and say something herself.
"I couldn't just beat you, Nate," Issy said smugly. "I'd slaughter you."
'And there you go,' thought Nate.
Issy was a bitter and depressing person. She was also his ex-best friend, his enemy. He knew why she was the way she was. She probably knew why he was the way he was. The thing with childhood best friends is that they were there, and they saw what happened to you. Nate would never openly talk about Issy's ordeal, nor did he expect Issy to speak about what happened to him.
It was this sort of code they had, much like their window code where they'd communicate through their windows at night. Not only was it their right to tell people on their own, but telling other people of the ex-best friend's past showed that you cared, and that you were there, and that you knew what other people didn't know.
So as they said their farewells that night, Nate just looked at Issy, as if silently reading her mind, knowing that they both hated this holiday situation. Nate honestly hoped it wouldn't be too bad, but hoping for anything immediately made it bad. He was going to have a shit summer. A fucking shit summer. The summer that was supposed to be one of the best was now going to be a major failure.
They had two days before they were leaving. Nate was going to make the very best of these two days because he knew the rest of this summer was going come close to how bad it was when he tried to go find his mum...stay away from depressing thoughts, Nate.
Nate walked down the front steps of Issy's house, before turning around, and smiling wryly. "See you in hell," he said, and walked off into the night before he could hear Issy mutter:
"We're already in it."